Hip Hop Meets Homophobia

March 12, 2014 in inQueery
Accessed on Wikimedia Creative Commons.

Azealia Banks performs at the 2012 NME Awards at the Brixton Academy in London. Photo: Tim Boddy.

(Trigger warning: homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic language and slurs, derogatory language, potential sexually and violently explicit language.)

It’s easy to forget when you’re listening to “Same Love” by Macklemore that, while he is supportive of the LBGT community, many of his fellow rappers aren’t. While thousands were inspired by his message of acceptance and love, it’s a single drop in a sea of hip-hop artists who still continue to use homophobic language in their lyrics and profit from spreading hate-speech. Below we’ve listed some of the worst offenders, and a few who you should consider giving a listen to instead.

AVOID: Eminem

Eminem has been on the receiving end of media backlash for…well, almost every track he’s laid down. When he’s not advocating for murdering a significant other in “Stan,” he’s dropping the f-bomb in his newest single “Rap God”. While Eminem tries to justify his use of the word ‘faggot’, it doesn’t excuse the impact it has on his listeners who follow in his logic when it comes to using it. The more freely the word is used, the more acceptable it becomes to use it in everyday speech. Flavor-wire (link?) contributor Tom Hawking echoed this sentiment when he asked of Eminem “Why is your right to say what you want to say more important than the reality of how what you choose to say might affect people?” (Hawking, 2013). If that weren’t disturbing enough, Hawking was then called out by Eminem fans who chose to repeat that language and use it against him. Instead of downloading Eminem’s latest album, there’s another artist you may want to check out before him that’s doing much more for the LBGT community in a different way.

LOOK OUT FOR: T-Pain

T-Pain has been incredibly vocal when it comes to treatment of LBGT-identified people . In a recent interview, the rapper spoke out against homophobia in the hip-hop community when it came to the unfair black-listing of Frank Ocean. T-Pain asserted that his fellow rappers were against the idea of collaborating with Ocean on the sole basis of his sexual orientation, and that they’re only doing more harm to their tracks without his vocals (Sieczkowski, 2014). With catchy tunes like “Bartender”, and “Low”, one can only assume that T-Pain knows his way around the industry and won’t find himself bowing into the homophobic atmosphere any time soon.

STAY AWAY FROM: Ja Rule

Ja Rule came under fire in 2007 when he decided to give his two cents on what was really wrong with America. When questioned if there was a problem with his portrayal of women through his lyrics, Rule responded by saying “Let’s talk about all these fucking shows that they have on MTV that is promoting homosexuality, that my kids can’t watch that shit. Dating shows that’s showing two guys or two girls in mid-afternoon. Let’s talk about shit like that. If that’s not fucking up America, I don’t know what is.” (Towle, 2007). While Ja Rule would later apologize for his remarks, the damage had already been done and his stance on the LBGT community was made clear. Instead of giving his tracks a spin, check out our next artist whose music is making a flashy entrance into the world of hip-hop.

LEND AN EAR TO: Azealia Banks

Banks emerged on the music scene back in 2012 with her sleeper hit “212”. Since then, she has shown that her style of music isn’t limited to one genre as she frequently fuses dance and hip-hop together to create something entirely new. Banks herself identifies as a bisexual woman who would rather live on her own terms and not have to deal with the pressure of being labeled one way or another in the hip-hop community. When asked if she feels fondly of her gay following, she stated “Definitely. I mean, I’m bisexual, so it makes sense. But I don’t want to be that girl who says all gays necessarily hang out together, of course! I have people say to me, ‘Oh wow, my friend is gay, too,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, so?’ (Colleen, 2012). While Banks owes much of her success to her LBGT followers, she could be making a more earnest effort in her own personal use of hate-speech directed at other LBGT professionals (though nowhere to be found in her lyrics). Her first album “Broke with Expensive Taste is slated for release in March 2014, and with her tracks that fuse together various genres and catchy hooks, we think it can’t come soon enough!

DISOWN: DMX

Oh, where to begin. DMX had an incredibly promising career, only to find that he alienated what little he had left of his gay fanbase in 2012 when he yelled in the middle of a concert “I’m gonna get out in this crowd and beat the shit out of this faggot”. When questioned about his use of the word, the rapper then added “Half my fucking family’s faggots.” (Fischer, 2012). It should go without saying that the use of that one word in particular isn’t on anyone’s favorite list of things to hear, and yet it almost comes second when examining DMX’s lyrics. In his 2003 single “Where the Hood At?” DMX rapped that he would “show no love, to homo thugs, empty out, reload and throw more slugs.” Truth be told, we’re tired of poorly constructed, cheap, and harmful music like so, and yet, we can’t help but think that DMX is crafting his lyrics to appeal to a hateful minority of rap enthusiasts. With both incidents on record, DMX won’t find much success if he attempts to continue his reign in the hip-hop world by damning one community entirely. At the same token, it’s rappers like him that made other artists who fought for the LBGT community so valuable when they arrived on the scene. Because of their attitudes of inclusion, many are already on their way to becoming household names.

While hip-hop has progressed far in terms of LBGT issues, there’s also still much work to be done. For every new single released by a progressive artist, others are released that convey the exact opposite message. It is one matter if hate speech exists in music, and yet, an entirely different one if we send the message that it is ok to do so by funding it. The rise and success of new rap stars who are accepting of the LBGT community is a good indicator that not only is the world of hip-hop ready to do away with homophobia, but we as a people are as well.

J.J. Medina is a guest contributor at InQueery.
You can follow J.J.’s personal and business ramblings on Google+

    SOURCES

  • Colleen, N. (2012, September 10). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/blogs/thread-count/azealia-banks-on-why-the-c-word-is-feminine-20120910
  • Fischer, R. (2012, October 16). Dmx drops anti-gay slurs at zombie pub crawl, fails to explain them away. Retrieved from http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/2012/10/dmx_drops_anti-gay_slurs_at_zombie_pub_crawl.php
  • Hawking, T. (2013, November 5). Retrieved from http://flavorwire.com/423709/why-is-it-so-important-for-eminem-to-keep-using-the-word-faggot/
  • Sieczkowski, C. (2014, February 11). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/11/t-pain-frank-ocean-homophobia_n_4766909.html
  • Simmons, E. (2003). Where the Hood At? On Grand Champ.
  • Towle, A. (2007, September 26). Retrieved from http://www.towleroad.com/2007/09/ja-rule-respond.html